Capture cards with the iSight and Evernote
Mac Tip #356, 17 September 2008
The last Tip mentioned using your Mac’s built-in iSight camera to grab quick photos of items such as receipts or business cards. That works nicely, but eventually you’ll end up with a bunch of unhelpfully named images in the Photo Booth folder —
Photo 24.jpg doesn’t really tell you a lot.
What’s more the Photo Booth folder can hold only so many photos before it affects Photo Booth’s performance, as explained in the Apple KnowledgeBase.
Lately I’ve been using the free version of a spectacularly useful piece of software called Evernote.
I use it for keeping notes, screenshots from web pages, ideas and thoughts, things I need to remember for a day or two or for a decade or two.
But I also use Evernote as a database, in conjunction with the iSight camera, to record receipts, takeaway menus, business cards and other single-page, small documents.
Open Evernote and click the iSight Note button on the Toolbar. Choose a Notebook where the Note will be saved. The iSight camera window opens.
Hold a business card or other item up to the camera and click the Take a video snapshot button in the window. After a short countdown you hear the camera shutter sound and the image is captured.
The screenshot shows me capturing my British passport cover — the only thing to hand while writing this Tip on a friend’s boat in Auckland.
If the image is satisfactory click the Add to Evernote button and the image is saved into a Note. Once Evernote has synchronised with the online server, any text within the image is searchable.
For example, a couple of months ago I grabbed the Canine Solutions business card into an iSight Note and today found it by searching on the word ‘behaviour’, since they are ‘Dog Behaviour Specialists’ in Wellington.
When I want to ring through an order for Thai takeaways I call up the note with the Original Thai menu.
And one of the wonderful features of Evernote is that I can access all my Notes from any computer, iPod or iPhone that has the free software installed (even Windows PCs), and online via the website, after I enter my username and password.
I’ll write more about Evernote in a future Tip as I’m finding it an indispensable part of my information toolbox.